Performance Maestro: Christian Clay Hits Peak With Award-Winning Year

Performance Maestro: Christian Clay Hits Peak With Award-Winning Year

After a decade or so in porn, the average performer may start to notice industry writers describing them using words like “veteran,” “iconic” and “legendary” in recognition of their achievements. But what do you call someone who has entered their third decade in the industry, with no signs of slowing down — and who somehow looks better and fresher than many a newcomer?

Would “2023 XBIZ Europas Male Performer of the Year” sum it up? It most definitely would, since we’re talking about Christian Clay.

We last saw the 44-year-old Italian star as he leapt up onto the Theater Amsterdam stage to accept his award, in a blue blazer and sockless loafers as he bounced with a sprightly step. However, that was merely the crowning moment in a story that began 22 years earlier, when a youthful Clay — born and raised in Ercolano — went to a casting call in Rome with a prominent industry photographer, director and modeling agent named Riccardo Schicchi.

“Actually, it all started as a joke,” Clay tells XBIZ. “Riccardo was casting for one of his big Italian productions and I went there to see how it was. Before that, I never aspired to be an actor. In fact, I wasn’t even a big fan of porn at the time, although that changed later.”

After some modeling and endurance tests, Clay became a porn actor overnight, shooting the very next day at a villa in Frascati from 10 a.m. until 10 p.m. — apparently surprising everyone with his sexual stamina.

“They didn’t believe it was my first time, they told me I had a natural talent,” he told newspaper Internapoli in an interview last year.

For the first part of his career, Clay says, he did not even see his new vocation as labor.

“All I did was fuck beautiful girls for five years!” he says, laughing. “Only later I started to think that it could be an actual job.”

Clay credits his natural-born hedonism for providing a career path that took him far away from some of the more questionable milieus and businesses that surrounded him growing up.

“I certainly don’t deny my origins,” he told Internapoli, “but I don’t share that life choice, and I have always been distant from it.”

Over time, he learned to respect his craft, fell in love with his work and came to feel pride in his industry accomplishments. In fact, he has said that, among other Italian industry notables, he considers himself “second only to Rocco.”

“I still do it with a lot of passion,” he adds.

The Importance of Staying Passionate

Clay’s 20-plus years as a performer have also coincided with massive changes in the industry. Before tube sites, he explains, Euro adult production was completely different from current practices.

“Back when I started, it all was much more professional, as productions were much bigger and you needed to invest a lot of money to produce DVDs, or even VHS before then,” Clay explains. “Particularly in Italy, it was more like proper movies, telling stories with a lot of dialogue. The girls were different too — I would say more passionate, which I got to appreciate.”

Clay has lamented what he sees as a lack of respect for industry pioneers like Francesco Malcom or Roberto Malone, who he says shaped the history of porn in Italy.

“With the internet boom, everything changed,” Clay continues. “I am aware that everything changes over time, but I’m not so sure it changed in a good way, necessarily.

“Or maybe it’s just me getting old!” he jokes, despite his still-prolific output. “Now everything goes so fast. The game is more about marketing content and social media. Also, access to digital cameras totally revolutionized what could be achieved. Anyone can buy a camera and shoot in 4K, 5K or even 6K. You don’t even need a cinema-quality camera anymore if you just want to make content.”

Clay says that while he sees content creators making a lot of money, much of the passion he remembers from his initial shoots seems to be lacking.

“Money is important,” he reflects. “But doing this job just for money, I don’t think it’s the best choice — especially for women. Remember: those images will live forever. Everyone loves sex, but to do it as a job, you have to be compelled to seek it constantly. That’s where the passion comes from.”

Still, Clay learned to adapt to the new ways of the porn world, as his accolade attests. Like any business, he finds, the industry has its pros and cons.

“I have sex with a lot of beautiful girls, I get to meet new people, I travel around the world, I make good money,” he notes. “It can be hard sometimes on relationships, though, especially when you work in Europe and you have to travel a lot to shoot, and that results in spending less and less time with your family, with your friends.”

Yet Clay also values the chance to mingle with colleagues, as he did during XBIZ Amsterdam panels and social gatherings.

“XBIZ Amsterdam this year was very nice,” he offers. “I got to spend time with a lot of my colleagues. The European industry is so spread out that it isn’t easy to put everyone in the same place. It is always nice to have drinks with people you have known for many years. The awards party also was amazing — so much fun.”

Clay says he did not expect to win.

“It was an amazing surprise and I was so excited that I couldn’t say much on stage,” he recalls. “I would have loved to be more eloquent, but I was shocked.”

After celebrating in Amsterdam that evening, Clay returned to Italy, where one of his friends organized a surprise party to hail his win.

When it comes to the business side of things, Clay has always kept other revenue streams going and diversified his investments. An avid cook who loves to sample different cuisines, he says he would love to open a small restaurant when he retires from porn.

“Maybe on the beach,” he muses.

But not any time soon. After forging a notable career shooting for others — most famously FM and Rocco Siffredi — Europe’s reigning top male performer is looking forward to expanding his production company, Dark Shade, which he is hoping to develop into a paysite in the near future.

“I love what I’ve done and I’m happy I started this lifestyle 22 years ago,” Clay reflects. “I did so many scenes with so many wonderful girls that I can’t even pick a favorite one: everyone left me some experience, or fond memory, or taught me something.”

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